Experts say Apple is ‘on very dangerous grounds’ for blocking employees from talking about wages on Slack while allowing topics like dogs and foosball

Tim Cook Apple
Apple CEO Tim Cook.

  • Apple shut down a Slack channel that employees created to talk about their pay at the company.
  • It did so despite allowing channels like #fun-dogs slip past its rule against non-work-related topics.
  • Experts say Apple “shot itself in the foot” if it enforced its policy inconsistently.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Apple banned a Slack channel that employees created to discuss their compensation at the company, and experts told Insider the company is on “very dangerous grounds” for doing so.

Apple shut down the channel because, while the topic was aligned with its “commitment to pay equity,” it violated the company’s Slack Terms of Service, The Verge’s Zoë Schiffer reported.

Apple also said “Slack channels for activities and hobbies not recognized as Apple Employee clubs or Diversity Network Associations (DNAs) aren’t permitted and shouldn’t be created.” But the outlet reported that Apple appears to not enforce that policy consistently since Slack channels exist at Apple devoted to non-work topics like dogs, gaming, dad jokes, and foosball.

While the experts we spoke to agree it’s difficult to say if this was strictly legal or illegal, they agreed that if Apple is not applying the rules equally within Slack, the company could be in hot water if employees were to file a lawsuit against it.

“A company can have a policy that says personal use of email or the Slack channel or any other technology is prohibited,” Anne Clark, a partner at the law firm Vladeck, Raskin and Clark, told Insider. But “if it only raises an issue when somebody is talking about pay or any other conditions of work or discrimination, then the company is violating the law.”

Yes to ‘happy, fluffy’ topics, no to working conditions?

apple logo

The National Labor Relations Act protects employees so they can talk about wages and conditions, Dan Bowling – a labor lawyer and a professor at Duke University School of Law – told Insider, and it’s unlawful for the company to block that.

“If two or more employees are talking about workplace conditions, then they’re protected by the NLRA,” Clark said.

But it’s not that black-and-white in this scenario, experts say.

That’s because Apple does have certain rights to block employer equipment and software – in this case, Slack – from being used to discuss non-work-related topics, Bowling said. The company also has the right to prohibit employees from using company systems to talk during work hours about things not related to the job.

“If they allow other topics but don’t allow union or wages topics, that in and of itself is going to put Apple in a very bad position,” Bowling said, adding, the company “shot itself in the foot here.”

Clark similarly said Apple can’t say employees “can talk about happy, fluffy things but not anything about the workplace.”

Paul Holtzman, a labor and employment attorney at Krokidas and Bluestein, likened it to employee organizing rights before the dawn of the internet, when employers would prohibit materials from being distributed via mailboxes or in-person at a school or company.

If companies had blanket policies saying that company mailboxes can only be used for business but cracked down on organizing paperwork and not girl scout cookie promotions or soccer league notices, then they would field pushback over “targeting or treating union organizing materials differently than you are other non-work-related materials.”

Experts agreed that the challenge that Apple would face in a lawsuit would be that they weren’t consistent. Bowling even said that employees “could probably win an unfair labor practice case down the road against Apple.”

“I think they’re on very dangerous grounds in terms of the liability under the NLRA or state law or the discrimination statutes,” Clark said.

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Salesforce rises as the software maker lifts earnings outlook after completing its acquisition of Slack

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff

  • Salesforce.com shares rose Thursday after second-quarter earnings and guidance beat expectations.
  • The company, which recently purchased Slack, sees third quarter adjusted earnings of $0.91-$0.92 a share.
  • Second quarter adjusted earnings of $1.48 a share were ahead of an estimated $0.92 a share.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Salesforce.com shares moved higher Thursday after the software maker’s second-quarter results came in ahead of analyst expectations and the company raised its profit view after completing the $28 billion purchase of workplace communications service Slack.

The company’s second-quarter adjusted earnings were $1.48 a share for the period ended July 31, above the Refinitiv forecast of $0.92 a share. Revenue rose by 23% to $6.34 billion, ahead of expectations of $6.24 billion and aided by growth in subscription and support sales in part from its Mulesoft and Tableau products.

Salesforce.com forecast third-quarter per-share adjusted earnings of $0.91 to $0.92 on revenue of $6.78 billion to $6.79 billion. Analysts were looking for $0.82 a share on sales of $6.66 billion.

Shares gained 3.8% to $271.15 as trading got underway Thursday. The stock this year has advanced by 17% through Wednesday’s session, which marked the highest closing price since October.

Salesforce’s outlook follows the July 21 closing of its acquisition of Slack. “There could not be a more relevant product at a more relevant time for every single one of our customers,” as the workforce landscape is changing and customer services such as contact centers have gone digital, said Bret Taylor, COO of Salesforce.com, during Wednesday’s analyst call.

With the Slack acquisition now closed, we see potential for investor sentiment to shift incrementally more positive following [operating margin] improvement and look for detail regarding the pace of OM expansion going forward at the company’s analyst day next month,” Kash Rangan, an equity analyst at Goldman Sachs, said in a note to clients reiterating its buy rating.

The company’s adjusted operating margin was 20.4% compared with 20.2% a year earlier.

Salesforce’s CEO Marc Benioff in responding to a question told analysts he doesn’t see the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus as material to the business.

“If anything, it only accelerates it. And Delta is not the last — the last one of these things that we’re going to see. We’re seeing a constant now parade of these variants going by. We started with Alpha,” he said.

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How to set your Slack status and let coworkers know you’re away or busy

The Slack logo displayed on a phone, in front of a colorful background.
It’s easy to update your Slack status on desktop or mobile.

  • You can set your status on Slack to show that you’re out of the office, away at lunch, in a meeting, and more.
  • Your Slack status can be anything you choose, and you can even pick an emoji to go with it.
  • To set your Slack status in the desktop app, click your avatar; in the mobile app, tap the “You” icon.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Social media is built on status updates, short messages that let you quickly tell everyone around how you’re doing and what you’re up to. And although it isn’t a traditional social media app, Slack uses status updates too.

Your Slack status can be up to 100 characters long, and include anything you like. It’s great for signaling when you’re away from your desk, if you’re in a meeting, sharing a pithy joke – anything you want others to know. It’ll be accompanied by an emoji of your choice, which will show up next to your name on every message.

Here’s how to set your Slack status using the desktop app or mobile app. No matter which way you set it, it’ll appear to every user in your workspace.

How to set your Slack status on desktop

This works in both the Slack website client and downloadable desktop app.

1. Open Slack and log into your account. If you’re a member of multiple workspaces, open up the workspace that you want to set your status in.

2. Click your avatar in the top-right corner of the window and then click Update your status.

A Slack menu that lets you change your settings or status, with the status option highlighted.
Your avatar will be tiny, stuffed up in the top-right corner.

3. A pop-up will appear with some options. Use the text field at the top to type in your status – it can be up to 100 characters long – and then click the emoji on its left side to pick an icon that’ll appear next to your name.

4. Once you’ve typed your status, use the Clear after option to choose how long you’d like the status to last. You can pick one of several preset dates, or Choose date and time to set a custom length. If you’re going on vacation, for instance, you might set it to clear on the day you come back to work.

A Slack status update window.
Type your status and choose how long it should last.

5. When you’re done, click Save.

An emoji will now appear next to your name on every message you send and on your profile. When other desktop users hover over the emoji or open your profile, they’ll see your status.

A Slack profile page with the status highlighted.
Your new status will appear on your Slack profile page.

How to set your Slack status in the mobile app

1. Open the Slack app and log into your account. If you’re a member of multiple workspaces, open up the workspace that you want to set your status in.

2. Tap the You icon in the bottom-right corner of the screen, and then What’s your status? or Update your status at the top.

A Slack mobile app's "You" menu, with the You icon and the status update option highlighted.
You can update your status from the “You” page.

3. A new page will open. Tap What’s your status? again to start typing in a status – it can be up to 100 characters long – and tap the emoji next to it to set what icon you want to appear with it.

4. Use the Clear after… tab to set how long you want to keep the status update. You can pick one of several preset dates, or Custom to set your own length. If you’re commuting, for instance, you might set your status to last an hour.

The Slack mobile app's "Set a status" menu.
Create a new status, or pick from one of the presets (if available).

5. When you’re ready, tap Done or Save in the top-left corner.

Mobile users can see your status by tapping your name or avatar on any message.

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5 apps and social media platforms you should be using to connect with clients

social media phone
Apps like Slack and Vox provide instant access to clients.

  • Tiffani Purdy is the CEO of New Paradigm Biz Bestie and a marketing and sales strategist.
  • While most people rely on email marketing, Purdy suggests finding new ways to connect with your clients.
  • She uses Slack, Facebook Groups, and Telegram to share content with clients and grow her business.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

For the last 20-plus years, email has become the standard form of communication for reaching out to clients. Ask any marketer for the last 10 years in particular, and they’ll say one of the top things a business should focus on is building their (email) list.

Snail mail is just too slow, and this increasingly-fast paced world makes a classic phone call unrealistic – what, are you going to call each person individually on your list? Or worse, are you going to have an automated bot interrupt their day with a phone call that is devoid of actual communication?

But now, email too is reaching a ceiling. Is your email going to their SPAM folder? Is it going to their “junk” email address that they use to sign up for all the mailing lists? Is it getting lost between an advertisement from their favorite clothing store and a digital copy of their phone bill?

I don’t think it’s time for us to throw away email entirely – especially not when it comes to communicating information to your warm audience – but if you’re really trying to maintain contact with your existing customers, you might want to try one of these increasingly popular options.

Slack

Everyone in the B2B world knows about Slack by now – and for a good reason. Slack’s no-nonsense interface is perfect for communicating with all your clients at once, or sending messages to people in specific groups by sorting them into different Channels. If you love the flexibility of list segmentation, you’ll appreciate the functionality of Slack.

I personally like using Slack as my general hub for connecting with my mastermind clients. We have different Channels for asking questions, for sharing wins, and for my team to make announcements that everyone needs to see. I’ve also created private Channels for each member to have direct access to me and my team, for scheduling calls, and sharing documents that don’t need to be shared with the whole group.

Even better? Slack can be used three ways: In your browser, in a Desktop app, or with a mobile app.

Facebook Groups

This one has its pros and cons, but it’s definitely a contender worth discussing! While most people choose to use Facebook Groups as a strategy for growing a free community of warm leads – you could just as easily use a Facebook Group as the home of your paid community.

On the plus side, a Facebook Group offers you a lot of different ways to communicate with the people inside your community. Live videos, photos, GIFs, polls, posts – your options are nearly limitless. And with Facebook giving you the ability to create modules and lessons inside Groups, you could easily sell and host an entire group program or online course inside a Facebook Group (saving you hundreds, even thousands, a year in course hosting fees using a system like Teachable or Thinkific).

Of course, the obvious downside of this option is that you have to have a Facebook account in order to join a Group, and your clients may not have a Facebook account. (Give “people leaving Facebook” a quick search – there’s a lot of movement away from the platform right now.)

Telegram and Voxer

These two apps are nearly identical in terms of functionality: They’re both messenger apps that give you the ability to send and receive voice messages in real time, like a walkie-talkie. You can use these like a classic one-to-one personal message, or you can create a group message that includes everyone on one thread.

While Voxer is more basic in its very orange UI, Telegram is going to be the prime choice for creatives and millennials who value personalization and expression.

I personally like using these kinds of apps for communicating with my top-level clients, who get more intimate, personal access to me. They love getting to hear my “off the cuff” thoughts on different things that they’re encountering in their business without having to wait for a formal group call or one-on-one session, and I love getting to share my insights in a quick, efficient way that can also benefit the other clients in this group who may have the same struggles or questions.

Instagram Close Friends

This one might be a surprising choice, but it’s growing in popularity as an alternative to Facebook Groups. You won’t be able to host a course for free on Instagram like you can with a Facebook Group, but you can still create a fun, exclusive place for your customers to stay in the loop.

I’ve seen this strategy work best for digital creators, in particular, such as podcasters or YouTubers. Using something like Patreon to collect membership fees from your audience, you can have each user fill out a quick Google form to get their Instagram handle upon signing up to get access to your exclusive content. After that, you’ll go to your Instagram Settings, tap on “Close Friends,” and from there you can hit the + to add new accounts to your Close Friends list. You don’t even have to follow an account to add them to your list!

This is a fun way to take something you’re already doing (creating content) for an audience who is already there consuming it, and monetizing it!

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Parler claims it was also dropped by Slack after Amazon and other tech giants cut ties with the controversial social media company

Parler
This illustration picture shows social media application logo from Parler displayed on a smartphone with its website in the background.

  • Parler CEO John Matze claimed in a court filing Wednesday that Slack had “canceled their services” to his company.
  • Matze claimed, in a lawsuit against Amazon’s AWS over its decision to cut ties with Parler, that Slack had cited “a violation of their own terms of service based on AWS’s decision to drop Parler.”
  • “Losing Slack makes it extremely difficult to effectively enforce our terms of service with our almost 600 volunteer and paid Jury members,” Matze said.
  • Major tech companies including Amazon, Twilio, Apple, and Google have cut ties with Parler in recent days amid widespread reports that rioters used the app to organize and incite violence at the US Capitol last week.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Slack has joined the growing list of tech companies refusing to do business with Parler, according to Parler CEO John Matze.

“Slack Technologies, which provided a chat messaging system for coordinating with the Parler Jury that enforces our terms of service, abruptly canceled their services to Parler,” Matze claimed in a court filing Wednesday.

Slack did not respond to a request for comment on this story.

Matze submitted the filing as part of Parler’s antitrust lawsuit against Amazon’s cloud computing arm, Amazon Web Services.

Parler filed the lawsuit on Monday after AWS cut ties with the controversial social media company amid widespread reports that rioters who seized the US Capitol last week had used Parler to organize and incite violence.

“AWS’s highly publicized break… allowed the media to mischaracterize Parler in ways that have alienated Parler’s partners,” Matze claimed, adding that, in canceling its contract with Parler, Slack cited “a violation of their own terms of service based on AWS’s decision to drop Parler.”

“Losing Slack makes it extremely difficult to effectively enforce our terms of service with our almost 600 volunteer and paid Jury members,” Matze said in the filing.

Parler has faced massive fallout in the wake of last week’s violence as various business partners have cut ties.

Apple and Google removed Parler’s app from their app stores, also citing its alleged refusal to take down violent content. Not long afterward, many of Parler’s service providers, including Twilio, Okta, and Zendesk, removed Parler from their platforms as well.

Parler’s platform was knocked offline over the weekend after AWS suspended its contract, and with Google Cloud, IBM, and Oracle all refusing to take on Parler, the company has reportedly enlisted the services of Epik, a domain registrar known for hosting far-right content.

Read more: Inside the rapid and mysterious rise of Parler, the ‘free speech’ Twitter alternative, which created a platform for conservatives by burning the Silicon Valley script

Parler rose to notoriety in recent months as mainstream social media sites have faced increasing pressure to crack down on hate speech, misinformation, and calls for violence.

Following the US presidential election in November, Trump supporters flocked to alternative social networks, including Parler, to plan election protests after Facebook and other sites banned groups that pushed debunked conspiracies. From November 3 to November 9, Parler was downloaded around 530,000 times in the US, according to data from Apptopia.

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